House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa is launching an investigation into the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office after reports surfaced indicating employees routinely do “little to no work” by abusing the agency’s generous telework policies.
In a letter to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker sent Tuesday, Issa asked the Patent Office to respond to a series of accountability questions following an explosive Washington Post article that “describes numerous instances of misconduct and apparent efforts by officials to conceal wrongdoing.”
“The waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement described by The Post is unacceptable, ” Issa wrote. Echoing a familiar complaint lobbed against the agency, the California Republican further condemned the agency’s alleged abuses for coming at a time when the office has a “backlog of patent applications of over 600,000, and an approximate wait time of more than five years.”
“Despite patent examiners generally receiving salary at the top of the federal pay scale—some making $148,000 a year—it appears the telework program is not serving its intended purpose to produce more efficiency,” he wrote.
Earlier this month, The Post reported on the findings of a full internal report conducted by the Patent Office that painted a much more damning picture than an edited version provided to an outside watchdog.